World News Day: ITE student's winning video on S'pore mangroves inspired by Steve Irwin

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SINGAPORE - To get a single shot of a crocodile crawling on land, Institute of Technical Education student David Lee spent one day in August in Sungei Buloh from 7am until 4pm, waiting for the right moment.

But his hard work paid off, and a short documentary that he made about mangroves with the footage has tied for first place in a competition titled #NextGen Video Challenge: Telling The Climate Story.

Organised by the National Youth Achievement Award (NYAA) Council, the contest is meant to commemorate World News Day, which falls on Tuesday (Sept 28).

World News Day is a global campaign to display support for journalists and their audiences. This year's theme is: World News Day 2021: The Climate Crisis.

To compete, Singaporeans aged 13 to 30 had to create videos addressing one of these topics: climate impacts on the urban environment, nature-based solutions for sustainable management, protecting and restoring ecosystems, and climate change and my community: how we respond.

Out of 85 submissions, 26 were shortlisted and two tied for first place.

Mr Lee's entry, titled Wild Side of Singapore: The Coastal Protector, is about the ecological role that the mangroves play in shielding Singaporeans from the effects of climate change.

Mr Lee, 21, who is in his final year of a Higher Nitec certification in film-making, told The Straits Times on Monday (Sept 27) that making documentaries and wildlife have been his twin passions since childhood.

He draws inspiration from Australian zookeeper and conservationist Steve Irwin, who died in 2006 after he was stung by a stingray while filming a television show.

He said: "Crocodiles are patient creatures, they tend not to move too much as they want to blend into the environment.

"To capture that one shot, you must be alert and ready at all times; if you miss that shot, it's gone and you will have a hard time getting the same shot you need."

Mr David Lee is in his final year of a Higher Nitec certification in film-making. PHOTOS: NYAA / DAVID ADAM JAMES LEE

To Mr Lee, the award is a validation of his effort and commitment to improving his craft. He told ST that he has been submitting videos to competitions for years and has not made headway until now.

The other winner is a group of students from Nanyang Polytechnic, who came up with a light-hearted take on getting people to do more to protect the environment.

Called The Master Waster Chris, the video features a fictional character called Chris Le Bao Qi. The wasteful man who does not care about conserving resources is portrayed by a Lego action figure.

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Group member Celest Tan, 19, told ST that the group wanted to make a video that was more whimsical and entertaining so it would stick better in the minds of audiences.

She said: "At this point, everybody already knows how serious the climate crisis is and instead of making another serious video warning people, we wanted to make something enjoyable which they would remember."

Group member Celest Tan said that they wanted to make a video which was more whimsical and entertaining. PHOTO: NYAA / CELEST TAN

The two winners will each receive US$1,000 (S$1,350) and a plaque. The videos will also be presented at the COP26 Climate Youth Report in Glasgow, Scotland, in November. COP26 is a United Nations-organised conference on accelerating action towards meeting global sustainability goals.

The flagship virtual event of this year's World News Day will be a 75-minute Web show, titled World News Day: The Climate Crisis, organised by the World Editors Forum and The Canadian Journalism Foundation.

It will be available on the official World News Day YouTube channel from midnight on Tuesday, and on The Straits Times YouTube channel from noon on the same day.

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